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Teenager Gets Parasite in Eye Known as Acanthamoeba Keratitis from Contact Lens

Eye Infection Contact Lenses

Ashley Hyde of South Florida almost went blind after a parasite grew on her contact lenses.

Suffering from throbbing pain and redness in her right eye, the 18-year-old high school senior, went to several doctors, but none of them could figure out what the problem was.

"They did multiple cultures where they scrape your eye," Hyde told Local 10. "One time, they had to drill into my eye. It was really nasty."

Finally one doctor discovered she had an acanthamoeba infection.

Hyde must now undergo several months of treatment and advises contact users never skip a step when cleaning their lenses. "It hurts," she said. "I wouldn't risk it."

"Every day, we see people come in with contact lens related to infections, complications, ulcers," said Dr. Adam Clarin, an optometric physician. "There are all things that are potentially blinding."

Clarin recommends people to use disposable contacts for daily use. "There is nothing safer or healthier than throwing out the lens every day and starting with a new one the next day," added Clarin.

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic parasite found tap water, dust, the sea and in showers and swimming pools. It spreads through contact lens use, cuts, or skin wounds or by being inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, most people will be exposed to Acanthamoeba during their lifetime, but very few will become sick from this exposure.

When someone does become infected, especially in the eye, Acanthamoeba keratitis typically results from improper contact lens use, and can cause permanent visual damage or blindness if left untreated.

It feeds on bacteria found on dirty contact lenses and cases. When the contact is put in the eye, the bacteria starts to eat its way through the cornea and breeds as it goes.

Symptoms of the infection include itchy and watery eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, swelling of the upper eyelid and extreme pain.

Treatment includes eye drops, with patients initially being treated every 20 minutes, day and night and spending up to three weeks in hospital. The most severe cases are given cornea transplants.

The CDC recommends the following steps to avoid getting Acanthamoeba keratitis, or any other parasites in your eyeballs, from contact lenses:

  • Visit your eye care provider for regular eye exams, especially if you experience recurring symptoms like eye pain or redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, or excessive tearing
  • Replace contact lenses as regularly as your eye care specialist prescribes
  • Remove contact lenses before any contact with water, including showering, using a hot tub, or swimming.
  • Wash hands with soap and water and dry before handling contact lenses.
  • Clean contact lenses according to these instructions:
    1. Never reuse or top off old solution. Use fresh cleaning or disinfecting solution each time you clean and store your lenses.
    2. Never use saline solution or rewetting drops to disinfect lenses-  neither are effective disinfectants.
    3. Be sure to clean, rub, and rinse your lenses each time you remove your lenses. Rubbing and rinsing contact lenses will help remove harmful microbes and residues.
  • Store reusable lenses in the proper storage case.
    1. Storage cases should be rubbed and rinsed with sterile contact lens solution (not tap water), emptied, and left open to dry after each use.
    2. Replace storage cases at least once every three months.

Teenage Girl Nearly Loses Her Sight After Parasite Grows on Her Contact Lens

Girl nearly loses sight from infection: A teenager has told how she almost lost her eyesight after a parasite grew on her contact lens and began eating through her cornea.


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